Alella is a relatively small Spanish wine-growing area surrounding the town of the same name, slightly north of Barcelona. The area was threatened for many years by expansion of the Catalan capital city. It was only in 1989 that government called a halt to this threat. This Spanish wines of Alella had been granted DO status in 1956 but the area’s history as a wine-growing area date back to the time of the Roman occupation and even earlier. The original wine-growing area surrounded Alella at a height of about 295 feet (90 metres). The soil of these ancient vineyards is mainly sand on underlying granite. The vineyards of Vallès has been officially part of Alella since 1989.
The Algerian wine-making tradition is more than 2,000 years old and wine was exported to Rome for the courts of the Caesars. Moslem domination ended Algerian wine production but grapes were still grown as fresh fruit and for raisins.
Modern Algerian wine production started about 130 years ago with the first French settlers and the first vineyards were planted in 1865. As French vineyards were decimated by phylloxera, many growers moved to Algeria to start again, bringing with them their own regional varieties.
Although Beaujolais is officially within Burgundy, it is usually treated as an independent French wine area. We do this because Beaujolais wine has its own identity which is further strengthened by the considerable publicity that surrounds this individually-minded Burgundian brother.
The most famous Beaujolais is the new wine or Nouveau, which is introduced each year with much ado. There is much more though to discover in the Beaujolais, with at least twelve different appellations.
Beaujolais starts about 6 miles (10 kilometres ) south of Macon, in the department of Rhône. It is a relatively small area about 37 miles by 71/z miles (60 km long by 12 km) wide that spreads itself across a ridge of hills that border the valley of the Saône. The area is subdivided into two sub-regions: in the north Haut-Beaujolais where the best wines are made, the 10 crus, and Beaujolais Villages. The soil is predominantly granite and quartz fragments on a bed of slate.
The southern part or Bas-Beaujolais has soil that is a mixture of clay and chalk. The everyday white, rose, and red Beaujolais are produced from these vineyards.
Only about 2% of the vineyards are planted with Chardonnay. The extremely rare white Beaujolais is made from these grapes. The remainder of the vineyards are planted with the Gamay grape. Some rose but mainly reds are made from Gamay.
In recent decades the growers of Beaujolais have realised that improvement and above all greater environmental awareness in the protect ion of their vineyards, combined with better equipment and hygiene in the wine cellar improves the quality of the wine. Consequently far less sulphate fertiliser is now used and wine-makers control temperature far better duringvinification.
Château Bélair has always been classified among the best of Saint-Emilion’s First Growths, and its origins are ancient. During the period of Bordeaux’s allegiance to the British crown, the property belonged to Robert de Knolles, the great seneschal and governor of Guyenne, who owned a considerable amount of land in the region. This worthy captain, who fought in the Battle of the Thirty in 1351, also took part in the battles of Avray and Navarette; this is where he received his insignia of honor when he was awarded Bertrand Du Guesclin’s sword. When Charles VII won back Guyenne, the descendants of Robert de Knolles remained on his land. They made their name French, changing it to Canolle, and kept the property until the French Revolution.
The Czech Republic is split into Bohemia and Moravia. Wine-growing in Bohemia covers a relatively small area. There are about 650 hectares of vines that are mainly planted alongside the Elbe river. These are the remnants of vineyards planted by Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612).
There are six areas of wine-growing within Bohemia but the area around Prague (Praha) and Caslav are little more than symbolic with less than 10 hectares of vineyards. Bohemia hardly enjoys a good climate for wine-growing with an average annual temperature of a mere 8°C (46.4°F) and an average of only 14.5°C (58°F) during the growth period. There are only 1,600-1,800 hours of sunshine per annum, and precipitation is 500-550 mm per annum. The soil is mainly chalk-bearing but also incorporates weathered basalt.
The origins of Bordeaux wines are unquestionably Roman. Archeological digs conducted in recent years have shown that vineyards existed in Bordeaux before 40 B.C. There is no doubt today that Bordeaux wine has entered its third millennium. Wine lovers, as they read on seven-wines.com, will soon realize that the history of Bordeaux wines is inseparable from those of its appellations and crus (growths). There is not one history, but many individual stories. The cultivation of vines in Bordeaux has spawned much more than the wine itself, and any brief summary is necessarily inadequate.
During its history Bordeaux has produced about fifty appellations and the region still boasts some seven thousand crus. Both a handicap and a blessing, this great diversity needs some selection and explanation before it can be understood by Bordeaux wine enthusiasts and buyers.
Bullas stood waiting at the door for nomination to the elite of Spanish wine-growing as long ago as 1982. Final recognition as a DO territory was not granted though until 1994. The story in Bullas is the same as the rest of the Levante: the demand for good but cheap wine within Spain and abroad was so great that no-one felt much need to try harder. Surpluses were not a problem until the consumer turn increasingly towards quality and away from quantity. Bullas too found times very hard but the crisis now seems to be slowly receding and at least one large bodega is now engaged in the production of wine of acceptable quality.
This DO is certainly the least well-known of the four Aragonese wine-growing regions. This is unjust for although the Spanish wines of Campo de Borja and Cariñena are full and powerful, those of Calatayud exhibit greater finesse and elegance. Because the area is protected in the east by the Cordillera Ibérica and in the north by the Sierra de la Virgen, the climate is more moderate than the previous two areas. This Spanish wines therefore have a better balance between acidity and alcohol.
The soils of the vineyards of Roussillon are very complex and variable: chalk, clay, shale, gneis, granite, and alluvial deposits, causing great variety in the types and tastes of these French wines. The climate is extremely hot in summer and mild in winter but rain does not fall evenly throughout the year. An entire vineyard can be destroyed by a cloudburst. Winemaking in Roussillon in the past decades has changed greatly with significant improvement of the regulation of temperature before and during fermentation. The white French wine is light, fresh, and fruity: drink it at 10- 12°C (50-53.6°F) .
The rose is produced by the saignee methode, meaning that the red French wine is drawn off early and then vinified as white wine. Because the wine is drawn off so quickly, the grape skins have had just enough time to impart their wonderful red colour without adding tannin to the wine. This rose is very fruity. Drink this taste French wine at 12°C (53.6°F) .
There are two different types of red wine. A light wine is often produced by steeping in carbonic acid gas maceration carbonique), which is fruity, slightly spicy, and particularly pleasing. For a good taste drink this French wine at 12- 14°C(53 .6-57.2°F) .
The traditionally made red French wine is stronger and more rounded. The bouquet tends towards red cherry, plums, preserved fruit, and spices. This French wine can be kept for some time because it is aged in wood. Drink this French wine at 14- 16°C (57 .2- 60.8°F) .
The difference of this red French wine from the other Cotes du Roussillon wines is its specific terroirs, which mainly consist of the sides of hills or terraces of shale, chalk, and granite. The grapes used are the same as ordinary Cotes du Roussillon but the output per hectare is much lower. The appellation Cotes du Roussillon Villages may be used by 32 communes in the north of the department on vineyards extending to 2,000 hectares. These French wines are stronger, more powerful, and more complex than Cotes du Roussillon, and can be kept longer. For a good taste serve this French wine at 16°C (60.8°F) .
Among the 32 communes of Cotes du Roussillon Villages, there are four which are permitted to bear their name on the label, in recognition of their higher quality.
The English grapes used are excellent and it is generally agreed that the choice of grapes will play a major role in the future of English wine-making, though perhaps not everywhere. From a list of more than 35 varieties we identify the most popular types. These are Bacchus, Chardonnay, Dornfelder, Kerner, Kernling, Ortega, Pinot Noir, Regner, Siegerrebe, Triomphe d’ Alsace, Wrotham Pinot, and Wurzer. Bacchus is the most widely grown of these, accounting for more than 9% of the vines planted. Bacchus is a hybrid of Sylvaner, Riesling, and Müller-Thurgau that produces better wine than ordinary Müller-Thurgau. The best Bacchus wines stand out with their Muscat-like nose. Pinot Noir virtually never achieves full ripening here and is used mainly to produce lighter wines that are virtually rosés.
English wine-growing and making was regarded as a bit of a joke until not so long ago but no-one is laughing any more at the fanatical English and Welsh wine growers.
English and Welsh wine growers have achieved tremendous results during the past fifteen years and by the end of the second millennium wine-making in the United Kingdom had become serious business.
While Neuchâtel wines originate from the north-western shores of the eponymous lake, those of Fribourg are made to the east of Lac de Neuchâtel, from around Broye in the south and Vully in the north. Vully’s vineyards stretch to between the lakes of Neuchâtel and Morat. The ground here is clay, sand, and calciferous sandstone. The climate is clearly moderated by the lake. The Chasselas grape holds sway here too but there are a number of interesting specialities such as the wines of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling x Sylvaner (Müller-Thurgau), and Freisammer, which is a cross between Sylvaner and Pinot Gris. There is also an excellent Swiss wines like Oeil-de-Perdrix and superb Pinot Noir.
Geneva is the third largest wine-producing canton of Switzerland after Valais and Vaud. The landscape around Geneva is much more gentle and less hilly than the other two main wine regions. The vineyards can therefore be larger and mechanisation is possible. This has no effect on quality but certainly on the price of the wine. The growers in the Geneva region have also been busy rationalising the processes and searching for the most suitable grape varieties for quality Swiss wines. The area is fairly flat with just the odd undulation but it is encircled by mountains which protect the vineyards against too much precipitation. The proximity of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) also protects the vineyards against night frost during the growing and blossoming periods. Here too the underlying geology is fairly diverse.
This is one of the 'new' wine regions of Germany in the former East Germany. Together with the other 'new' region of Saale/ Unstruut they form the most northerly of the German wine areas.
Sachsen is the furthest east along the banks of the Elbe, on either side of Dresden.
It is a very small area with several scattered vineyards sited between Pillnitz and Diesbar Seusslitz, with the towns of Meissen and Radebeul at its centre. The soil of these vineyards is extremely varied (including sand, porphyry, and loam) . Müller-Thurgau, Weissburgunder, and Traminer produce dry and fruity wines here with a refreshing degree of acidity. The rare local wines are light and mellow and the Elbtal-Sekt is of very acceptable quality.
This small area to the south of Halle is the most northerly wine area of Germany and with the United Kingdom, the most northerly of Europe. The severe continental climate forces the growers to harvest their grapes as early and quickly as possible. Pew sweet wines are therefore likely to be encountered, certainly no late harvested types. Most of them are dry and often pretty tart.
White grapes particularly thrive on a soil of sandstone with plenty of fossilised shells, but the rare reds prove the potential ofthe area. Müller-Thurgau is undemanding and productive and here it successfully produces fresh vegetal wines with a pleasing fragrance of grapefruit. The Silvaner (Sylvaner) are better though, producing mellow and fresh wines with milder acidity and nose of citrus fruit.
The best places are reserved for Riesling, which yield especially good results on chalk soils. The Riesling is fresh, powerful, full-bodied, with a characteristic nose of pear.
The German wine region of Baden is in the south-east of Germany, forming a fairly long strip from the northern shore of the Bodensee by way of the famous Black Forest... Read more about German Baden Wine
The vineyards of Württemberg are situated on hills above the Neckar and its tributaries.
Read more about German Württemberg Wine
The Rheingau is not only the geographical centre of the German wine industry, but also its historic centre.
Read more about German Rheingau Wine
Rheinpfalz is the most French of all the German wine regions.
Read more about German Rheinpfalz Wine
This widely known wine region stretches itself out along the Saar, Ruwer, and the Mosel rivers, from Saarburg by way of Trier to Koblenz..
Read more about German Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
The area formerly all known as Graves extends from below the village of St-Pierre de Mons to Blanquefort south-west of Bordeaux. It is subdivided into three large wine-growing areas: Graves itself (Graves Rouge, Graves Blanc Sec, Graves Superieures Moelleux and Liquoreux), Pessac-Uognan (Rouge and Blanc Sec) , and the sweet wine enclaves Sauternes, Barsac and Cerons.
The area stretches for about 50 km (31 miles) and comprises 43 different communes. Graves is the only French wine to carry the bedrock or soil of its terroir in its appellation on the label. The name 'Graves' is English. Medoc then was still swampland that was later drained and reclaimed by the Dutch. The name Graves became forever linked to its wines because of the favourable nature of the ground for winemaking.
French wines from Graves contributed to establishing the great name of Bordeaux rather than those of Medoc which only came into being in the second half of the eighteenth century, when they profited from the fame of Graves.
With Graves too what is instantly apparent is the great diversity of different terroirs. Generally the soil consists of terraces of clay and sand with gravel and plenty of boulders. The quality of the soil here ultimately determines the quality of this French wine. The Graves vineyards came under tremendous pressure in the twentieth century. The expansion of the city of Bordeaux caused about 7,000 hectares of land to be lost and this process was exacerbated by the economic crisis that preceded World War II, by that war, and the severe frosts of 1956. The vineyards close to the suburbs of Bordeaux suffered most in these times. For foreigners it is quite surprising to see that top chateaux such as Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion are almost permanently bathed in the smoke from Bordeaux.
In the 3,000 hectares of Graves, 53% red wine and 47% white wine is produced. The better wines (including all the Graves grand crus) have had their own appellation of Pessac-Leognan since 1987. Red wine throughout the area is made using Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, sometimes supplemented with Malbec and PetitVerdot.
White wine is made using Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle.
Historically the red Graves were the great Bordeaux wines. The vineyards were planted by the Romans and the wine was highly desired by the Roman emperors. The wine became world famous thanks to the English but the French kings were also extremely French for gravel, the ground on which vines best thrived during the occupation of Aquitaine by the fond of the wine. Recognition with an AC was granted in 1937.
Depending on its terroir Graves red can either be light and elegant or full, fatty, fleshy, and full of tannin. The latter type in particular keeps well. A characteristic of the Graves red is the slight smoky undertone in both the bouquet and taste. This taste is derived from the soil. Other characteristic aromas are vanilla, ripe fruit such as strawberry, blackcurrant, orange peel, toast, green pepper (paprika), and a little cinnamon, coffee, cocoa, and humus as the wine matures. Drinking temperature: 16°C (60.8°F).
This French wine region lies in the heart of the French Basque country and was known already at the time of Charlemagne. The village of Irouléguy was then a trading centre for these Basque wines. Winegrowing fell into decline following the phylloxera epidemic until a number of growers decided in the 1950s to establish a co-operative. The vineyards of the once famous Irouléguy were restored or replanted. Enormous investment was made to improve the quality of the wine and in the 1980s further great efforts were undertaken to reach greater heights. New vineyards were planted, mainly on terraces. In addition to the efforts of the local co-operative venture, various private initiatives were also undertaken such as those of Etienne Brana, whose business has become world famous. In recent decades the wine-growing and making in Irouléguy is so improved that it can be fairly described as one of France's premier wine-growing areas.
The French wine-growing
The vineyards around Irouleguy are situated in the neighbourhood of St-Jean Pied de Port and StEtienne de Baigorry. They are mainly sited in terraces with soil of red sandstone, clay, and shale, interspersed with some chalk. The green of the vineyards set against the red-oxide sandstone makes for a taste French wines.
The climate is set between moderate oceanic weather and the extremes of the mountains and continent. The winter is fairly mild with plenty of rain and snow. The spring is wet with occasional harmful periods of frost. Summer is hot and dry. The greatest risk lies in thunderstorms which can cause destruction, when combined with hailstorms.
The autumn is often hot and dry, which is ideal for harvesting and ripening of healthy grapes. These circumstances combined with the difficulty of access to many of the vineyards means that the output is fairly low here.
The French wines from Irouléguy
About two thirds of the production from Irouléguy is of red French wine. The wine's character is derived from the Tannat (maximum 50%), Cabernet Pranc (Axeria) and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are three categories of red French wine from Irouléguy: ordinary, the cuvees and the estate bottled wines in escalating levels of quality. The simplest Irouléguy is sturdy, high in tannin, fruity (blackberry) and spices. The better cuvees are more full-bodied, are aged longer in oak, and benefit from several years ageing in the bottle. The top estates (Brana, Ilarria, Iturritxe and Mignaberry) make outstanding wines with powerful bouquets of spices and black fruit (blackberry and plum) with a hint of vanilla. The taste for this French wine is complex, full, and rounded with a perfect balance between the fresh acidity, fruitiness, alcohol, body, and strong but rounded tannin. Enthusiasts never stop talking about the aftertaste.
Just as with Collioure, ordinary Irouléguy red can be drunk when young with grilled fish, if chilled, especially if they are garnished with baked peppers. Drinking temperature for Irouléguy French wine: 14-16°C (57.2-60.8°F). The cuvees and estate wines can be drunk at 16-18°C (60.8- 64.4°F) .
The rose Irouléguy French wine is fresh and quite dry. It was this wine that originally established the good name of Irouléguy.
Here too there is a combination of Tannat with Cabernet Pranc and Cabernet Sauvignon French wine. The colour resembles red currant and the delicate nose is fruity too with red currant and cherry, while the taste is both fresh and fruity. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 10-12°C (50-53.6°F).
The rare Irouléguy white French made with Xuri Ixiriota (Manseng) and Xuri Cerrabia (Petit Courbu) is richer and fuller than its cousins of Bearn. This white French wine of great class has a bouquet containing white flowers, white peach, citrus fruit, butter, hazelnut, and almond underscored with a hint of vanilla and a mineral undertone. Drinking temperature for this white French wine: 9- 10°C (48 .2-50°F).
The Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC is reserved only for wines produced in the communes of Lalande-de-Pomerol and Neac. This region from Bordeaux is located on one of the pilgrim paths that led to Saint James of Compostela. The Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem and the Knights of the Order of Malta built refuges, hospices, and residences here. Dating from the twelfth century, the church of Lalande-de-Pomerol, the only one of its kind in Libourne, is the only remaining monument of the Hospitallers.
This Bordeaux region, in which vines have been cultivated since the tenth or eleventh century, extends west from Saint-Émilion. The landscape grows less rugged towards the valley of the Isle river.
Everyone has heard of Chateau Margaux of course, the showpiece from this appellation. The AC Margaux includes the communes of Margaux, Arsac, Cantenac, Labarde, and Soussans. The underlying soil of Margaux is extremely poor gravel with some larger stones. The microclimate is somewhat different to the other areas. Firstly Margaux is more southerly than the other Grand Cru vineyards which means more warmth and quicker ripening of the grapes. Equally important though is the role that the islands and sand banks play for Margaux. These protect the area against the cold northerly winds, creating ideal conditions for producing great French wine.
The French wines of Margaux are excellent for laying down of course but their charm is rather more in the finesse and elegance than in their tannin. Margaux is perhaps the most feminine French wine of the Medoc, being soft, delicate, subtle, sensual, and seductive. Certain characteristic aromas include red ripe fruit, cherry, plum, spices, resin, vanilla, toast, gingerbread, coffee, and hot rolls. Drink this Margaux French wine at: 17- 18°C (62.6- 64.4°F) .
Matanegra surrounds the small town of Zafra, approximately 19 miles (30 km) south of Almendrajelo. The production of Spanish wines in this area with 8,000 hectares of vines in cultivation is mainly in the hands of family businesses. Ribera Baja del Guadiano (the lower loop of the Guadiana, that extends to 7,000 hectares) is situated just to the west of Badajoz.
Ribera Alta del Guadiano (upper loop of the Guadiana, that extends to 8,500 hectares) is found around the towns of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena, about 75 miles (120 km) upstream of Badajoz. Montanchez is a small territory of 4,000 hectares, situated surrounding the small town of the same name, about 44 miles (70 km) north-east of Badajoz. This area is known for its ancient vines and olive trees. It is a picturesque region with lots of gently undulating hills and hospitable valleys.
Mexico is probably the oldest wine-producing country of the New World. Vines were introduced by the Spanish conquistadors under the command of the faimous Henando Cortez in the sixteenth century.
The results were very disapponting though because of the tremendous heat and arid conditions.
The Spanish searched for better places to plant the vines further north in satisfactory. It was only in the eighteenth century that Franciscan monks imprived the Spanish vineyards and extended those in the former greater California. After California was separated from Mexico, wine-growing in Baja California (the Mexican part of California) fell into total neglect. Several large American and European wine and drinks companies saw an opportunity in the later twentieth century to establish a wine industry in Mexico in the best locations.
Of these companies the firm of Domecq achieved short-term success with Mexican wine. Because of the very hot and dry conditions it is essential for wine-growing to find cooler places so sites were sought on the high plateaux. Hence some vineyards are sited at 3,300-5,000 feet. Although there are well-hnwon internationally. These are L.A. Cetto, Mission Santo Thomas, and Domecq to a lesser extent in terms of the wine than the name.
L.A. Cetto and Domecq have vineyards in Baja California, about 50 miles south of the bode with the United States, tin the Guadalupe Valley, and Mission Santo Thomas has them in the Santo Thomas Valley. There are also vineyards in the Baja California of the smaller scale but high quality wine producer of wines, with a sultry and unforgettable Chardonnay and excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines are very expresive and difficult to get and appers to be less interested in wine. Mission Santo Thomas has entered into a joint venture with the famous Californian company of Wente and is extremly busy. Their Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon are absolute gems.
L.A. Cetto makes a wide range of different types of wine from very acceptable cheap ones for local consumption to excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, and Petite Syrah that are mainly intended for export.
Mexican wines, as the taster will soon discover, are long on sensuality and short on finesse.
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